Many MS Patients Struggle With Finances, Forgo Treatments

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

TUESDAY, September 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) – More than three-quarters of Americans with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience financial difficulties that often prevent them from seeking treatment, according to new research.

“The results of our study demonstrate the high prevalence of financial toxicity for patients with MS and the resulting decisions that impact their health care and lifestyle,” said the author of the study, Dr. Gelareh Sadigh, assistant professor of radiology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

She and her colleagues surveyed 243 adult MS patients visiting neurology clinics and found that 56% reported a drop in income after their MS diagnosis and 37% had a decrease greater than 20%.

More than a third (35%) of patients said they did not stick to their medications or medical imaging routines because of the cost. Thirteen percent said they did not get the recommended imaging tests, which have higher co-payments than other health services, according to the study.

The study, sponsored by the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute in Reston, Va., Is the first to assess “financial toxicity” in patients with MS and determine whether financial hardship is associated with forgoing medication and imaging follow-up prescribed in their treatment plan. , said the authors.

Patients with MS can face considerable financial hardship due to expensive treatments, high rates of disability and loss of income.

“Over the past 20 years, the higher costs of advanced imaging tests and increased cost sharing have resulted in an increased financial burden for patients with MS. Among families with medical bankruptcy, MS is associated with the highest total expenses. , exceeding those of cancer patients, ”Sadigh said in a press release from the institute.

The results were recently published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

“These data underscore the need for shared decision making and awareness of patient financial pressure when planning treatment strategies,” said study co-author and affiliate principal investigator at the Neiman Institute, Dr Richard Duszak.

“In addition to the impact on adherence, financial toxicity was associated with a significantly lower quality of life related to physical health, which demonstrates the general consequences of treatment costs for many patients with MS”, added Duszak, vice president of health policy and practice in the department. of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory.

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SOURCE: Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, press release, September 8, 2020

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